August 19, 2021

Interpretive Summary: Investigating pig survival in different production phases using genomic models

Interpretive Summary: Investigating pig survival in different production phases using genomic models

By: Anne Kamiya, MS

Optimizing the survivability of pigs is crucial for both animal welfare and the productivity of farms. Typically, up to a third of pigs do not survive to harvesting. Survivability is poorest from birth to postweaning and various factors such as environment, infection and other external stressors can impact morbidity and mortality. Pigs lost during the postweaning period cause significant financial loss, therefore, finding ways to improve postweaning survival is a priority. In this study published in the Journal of Animal Science, researchers investigated the potential for improving piglet survivability through genetic selection using a single-step genomic best linear unbiased prediction (ssGBLUP) model.

Two multi-trait threshold models were compared for accuracy of predicting piglet survival (ssGBLUP versus the traditionally used BLUP model). Traits included in the ssGBLUP model were farrowing, lactation and combined postweaning survival. Traits included in the BLUP model were nursery and finishing survival. The predictive accuracy of breeding values for piglet survivability was overall low in both models, but slightly higher in the ssGBLUP model.  

The results of this study suggest that survivability traits have low heritability in pigs, however, the ssGBLUP prediction model is slightly more accurate than the BLUP model. Given that even slight increases in survivability may have significant impacts on pig welfare and productivity, further research into optimizing genetic models for predicting survivability traits may be warranted. 

The original article, Investigating pig survival in different production phases using genomic models, will soon be viewable in the Journal of Animal Science.